Return to top
featured in… The Huffington Post CookingLight Reader's Digest Women's Health BuzzFeed Glamour Whole Foods Oprah Winfrey Network CNN Food Network Healthline Shape

Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Vegan Dal Makhani Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure.
Share This:

This smooth and creamy Vegan Dal Makhani that has been prepared in the Instant Pot gives you sensational flavors in every bite. Hearty lentils, kidney beans, fresh spinach, and warm spices make this healthy, decadent dish super satisfying and family-friendly. It has the added bonus of being gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free too!

top view of instant pot vegan dal makhani recipe, served in a white bowl with fresh herbs on top

Skip the restaurant and make this flavorful Vegan Dal Makhani at home instead. You can get even better flavors because cooking it in a pressure cooker allows all the seasonings and spices to marry together, and it speeds up the cooking time for those dry beans & lentils!

Latest Recipe Video!

Traditional dal makhani is made with lot of cream and butter – making it rich and flavorful, but not very healthy and definitely not vegan friendly!

I love the flavors and textures of homemade Dal Makhani. We make this recipe vegan by using coconut milk and coconut oil instead of the cream and butter. Then we add in richness and flavor with lots of warm spices. This results in a creamy dish that you won’t even be able to tell is vegan!

Tools and Equipment You’ll Need

How To Make Vegan Dal Makhani

“Dal Makhani” simply translates to “Lentils with Butter”. Or technically, pulses (lentils/beans) with butter. Of course, to make this a vegan-friendly version, we’re using coconut oil instead! Here are my other tips on how to make the best vegan dal makhani you’ve ever had.

Ingredients You’ll Need

ingredients for vegan dal makhani
  • Lentils & Beans: In the traditional Indian recipe, each type of dal recipe requires a very specific type of lentil. For Dal Makhani, that lentil is called urad dal — whole black urad dal. Also in dal makhani, red kidney beans are paired with the urad dal to make a complete dish. However, if you don’t have access to an Indian store, it can be challenging to find this type of dal at your local grocery store. And in that case, I recommend using brown lentils or black beluga lentils as a substitute. If you do use urad dal, be sure to soak it for at least 6 hours before cooking. If you use brown lentils, no soaking is required! Also, I used dry lentils and beans, but if you’re pressed for time you could use pre-cooked/steamed lentils and canned kidney beans! Just make sure to adjust the cooking time (you’ll only need about 2-3 minutes in the instant pot!)
  • Baby Spinach: You can substitute this for any leafy green you like! Kale or even Swiss Chard would also work.
  • Spices: Critical to the amazing flavor in this recipe! Don’t skimp on the spices, but definitely adjust to your taste preferences.
  • Coconut Milk: Adds that traditional dal makhani creaminess while keeping this plant-based and vegan friendly!

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1: Cook the lentils, kidney beans + water in the instant pot (you can also do this in a slow cooker or on the stovetop, the cook time will just be longer). In the Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, natural release.

dry beans cooking in instant pot

Step 2: Mash some of the lentils + beans using a potato masher. Add in the baby spinach and let the dal simmer on “keep warm” setting while you make the spice mixture. 

spinach added to instant pot with dal

Step 3: To make the spice mixture (masala), heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add the coconut oil, onions, garlic ginger paste (or minced garlic/ginger), and cook until the onions are translucent. 

onions and garlic and ginger sauteeing in a pot

Step 4: Add the crushed tomatoes and cook through – about 5 minutes. Add the spices and salt. Cook about 3 minutes more. 

tomatoes cooking in a large pot

Step 5: Add in the lentils/kidney beans/spinach mixture into the large pot. Stir to combine and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered, on medium low heat.  Add water if the dal is getting too thick. 

spinach added to dal

Step 6: Add the coconut milk and let it simmer for another 10 minutes until combined. 

dal cooking in a large pot

What Makes This Vegan Dal Makhani Healthy?

  • Protein and Fiber: You will get plenty of fiber and plant protein in every bite of this homemade Dal Makhani, thanks to the lentils and kidney beans. Each serving of this recipe has almost 12 grams of protein and 14 grams of fiber.   
  • Healthy Fats: You will get lots of healthy fats from the full-fat coconut milk and coconut oil.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: As you can imagine, this Dal Makhani is PACKED with lots of great-tasting vitamins and minerals. Iron, Vitamin K, Folate, Copper, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Calcium, and more in each helping. 

Will Kids Enjoy This Recipe?

This mellow dal is a great introduction to Indian spices for kids of all ages. If your kids enjoy lentils and beans, then most likely they will love this Dal Makhani. It’s so creamy, rich, and has tons of flavor in every bite. It’s not spicy, so you don’t have to worry about that, but you can always adjust the spices if your child is more sensitive to spice. If your kiddo isn’t sure about trying it, then give them a small amount along with a healthy salad or something they like too. 

side view of instant pot vegan dal makhani recipe, served in a white bowl with fresh herbs on top

Recipe FAQs

What is Dal Makhani?

Dal makhani is a traditional Indian dish originating from the Punjab region (in North India). It is a hearty dish made from lentils and kidney beans. Traditionally it is made with butter and cream, but to make this dish vegan these ingredients are substituted with coconut milk and coconut oil.

What Do I Serve with Vegan Dal Makhani?

Dal Makhani goes really well with some brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat naan/whole wheat tortillas on the side. Some people like to add a little bit of sour cream, Greek yogurt, or cilantro on top as a garnish. Note: If you want to keep this recipe vegan friendly, you should use a vegan yogurt / sour cream. You can even serve it with a fresh garden salad and warm bread to complete the meal. There are no wrong answers when it comes to finishing your menu when serving this dish. 

How Do You Store and Freeze This Recipe?

To Store: Make sure the Dal Makhani has cooled down all the way before storing it. Once it’s cooled, then you can pour it into an airtight container and keep it in the fridge. It will last up to 4 days in the fridge. 
To Reheat: Reheat the Dal Makhani in the microwave for the quickest method. Just heat it until it’s hot all the way through and enjoy. You could also slowly warm it in a small saucepan, but be sure to stir it frequently, so it doesn’t burn.  
To Freeze: This recipe freezes really well! Make sure the Dal Makhani has cooled down all the way, and then transfer to an airtight container. Place in the freezer for up to 4-6 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating and eating. 

Top Tips for Making Vegan Dal Makhani

  • Do not use a milk substitute for the coconut milk unless it is full fat. This will affect the way the dish turns out. 
  • Feel free to swap the spinach for kale if you want to try a different leafy green in this recipe.
  • Garnish with your favorite toppings such as fresh tomato slices or cilantro. 
  • Do not add the coconut milk until the last 10 minutes, or it will not turn out properly in the Instant Pot. 
  • You can make this ahead of time and serve it the next day – the flavors will just blend together even better as it sits overnight in the fridge!
  • Serve with whole wheat naan, sprouted wheat tortillas, brown rice or quinoa.
  • If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can cook the lentils & beans in a slow cooker or even on the stovetop — the cook time will just vary as both will take longer than the Instant Pot!
top view of instant pot vegan dal makhani recipe, served in a white bowl with fresh herbs on top

Check Out These Other Indian Recipes!

If you have tried this Vegan Dal Makhani recipe or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family friendly food!

top view of instant pot vegan dal makhani recipe, served in a white bowl with fresh herbs on top
Print Recipe
5 from 6 votes

Dal Makhani Recipe (Healthy, Vegan)

This easy vegan dal makhani is a perfect healthy and nutritious weeknight meal. Made with brown lentils and herbs and spices, this hearty main course is full of flavor and simple to make.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4
Calories: 201kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

For The Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, or Pressure Cooker

  • 1 cup dry brown lentils (about 2.5 cups cooked)
  • 1/4 cup dry red kidney beans
  • 4 cups water
  • 6 oz baby spinach, chopped finely

For The Spices (On the Stovetop)

  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste (or 2 tsp minced ginger + 1 tsp minced garlic)
  • 1.5 cups crushed tomatoes (15oz can)
  • 1.5 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp garam masala

Instructions

  • Cook the lentils, kidney beans + water in the instant pot (you can also do this in a slow cooker or on the stovetop, the cook time will just be longer). In the Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, natural release.
  • Mash some of the lentils + beans using a potato masher. Add in the baby spinach and let the dal simmer on “keep warm” setting while you make the spice mixture. 
  • To make the spice mixture (masala), heat a medium pot over medium heat. 
  • Add coconut oil, onions, garlic ginger paste (or minced garlic/ginger), and cook until the onions are translucent. 
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and cook through – about 5 minutes. Add the spices and salt. Cook about 3 minutes more. 
  • Add in the lentils/kidney beans/spinach mixture into the large pot. Stir to combine and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered, on medium low heat.  Add water if the dal is getting too thick. 
  • Add the coconut milk and let it simmer for another 10 minutes until combined. 

Video

https://youtu.be/r-FUZ5lEORU

Notes

Top Tips for Making The Best Vegan Dal Makhani
  • Do not use a milk substitute for the coconut milk unless it is full fat. This will affect the way the dish turns out. 
  • Feel free to swap the spinach for kale if you want to try a different leafy green in this recipe.
  • Garnish with your favorite toppings such as fresh tomato slices or cilantro. 
  • Do not add the coconut milk until the last 10 minutes, or it will not turn out properly in the Instant Pot. 
  • You can make this ahead of time and serve it the next day – the flavors will just blend together even better as it sits overnight in the fridge!
  • Serve with whole wheat naan, sprouted wheat tortillas, brown rice or quinoa.
  • If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can cook the lentils & beans in a slow cooker or even on the stovetop — the cook time will just vary as both will take longer than the Instant Pot!

Nutrition

Calories: 201kcal | Carbohydrates: 32.3g | Protein: 11.9g | Fat: 4.7g | Saturated Fat: 3.6g | Sodium: 942.5mg | Potassium: 156.9mg | Fiber: 14.2g | Sugar: 1.8g

Posted In…

Indian Recipes ·

From samosas to curry, I have recipes for everyone’s Indian favorites.

Try a trendy golden milk turmeric latte or a healthy homestyle sabji and fall in love with these rich flavors.

Subscribe to newsletter

Copyright 2021 The Picky Eater. All rights reserved.